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The Creationists

Theses run the gamut from poetry collections to original dance performances

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE

Mallory Weiss portrait
While Sun wrote about recent experiences, Mallory J. Weiss ’15 will take a look back to the past through her playwriting thesis.

Weiss started taking playwriting classes her freshman year and knew right away that she wanted to write a creative thesis in the form of a play. Weiss will draw inspiration for her thesis play from a play she wrote last semester. This previous play, entitled “Beginning,” reinterprets the story of Adam and Eve and will run in the Adams Pool Theater from April 25 to April 27.

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“[The] start of things really interests me,” Weiss explains. “A professor was talking about how Newton used the Bible to try to figure out how old the Earth is, and that was just a really interesting idea to me, so as of right now my [thesis] play is going to focus on the beginning of the world and the beginning of people and where we came from and having the characters search for the past and learn about the present and hopefully about the future.” She hopes to travel this summer to Cambridge, England, where Newton went to school. Regardless of where she is, she will spend the break “figuring out what the play is not going to be—a lot of writing and tearing up of paper.”

What is Weiss most looking forward to in writing her creative thesis? “The process of really [getting] a substantial play under my belt. Just really making my style better and taking risks and at the end, having this piece that I’m hopefully really proud of. The process will be exciting, but I’m definitely looking forward to that moment when I can say, ‘Wow! Look at what I’ve done!’”

Sam W. Marks, Weiss’s thesis advisor and a new addition to Harvard’s English Department who teaches two creative writing classes—“Introduction to Playwriting” and “Advanced Playwriting”—firmly supports the production of creative theses. “I think the [creative thesis] program is a great part of the department, and the work is generally really strong. It’s a really excellent culmination for the work a lot of the students are doing in the department,” he says.

Mark’s role as creative guide has extended beyond advising writers of approved creative theses. “This year I found myself advising unofficially and working unofficially with several students who were not writing theses but who were writing plays they wanted to put out,” Marks says. “I hope that in the future I can continue to do that.”

BEYOND HARVARD

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